An Autobiography (Part 4): My Rembrance Book

I wrote one in early 2006 after finding and reviewing pictures, birthday cards and letters in a big box after going through my mother-in-law’s belongings after she passed away. My wife remembered a lot, but most pictures were she and her cousin started making phone calls all over until we were able to bring the story up to the point to make some sense via a family tree chart.

It's really fun to do, and has a purpose--our future generations will have a copy to browse through to find their own roots.

Every day brought new surprises, especially when we traced one of my wife's family members who was found to have been a tailor under Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War...and learned how her family came to the United States in the mid-1820s. During those days in Europe (where her family lived), when the father died all the wealth (money, valuables, farmland) went to the oldest son (and in this case three other brothers got nothing) which forced one to come to America and settle down with his first of three wives.

My wife's family came from Germany afterwards and settled basically in the New York City area.  My parents came from Russia (Latvia area) in the middle 1890s, with my father settling in Philadelphia, PA area, and my mother staying with her uncle in Des Moines, Iowa. My father was nine, my mother was six.

My mother visited the Philadelphia area during her teens, and stayed there where she met my father, and eventually they married, and had three children (Dorothy, Benjamin, and me, Bernard). The family eventually moved to Atlantic City, NJ when they retired from their own millinery business that brought them a great deal of money, enough to retire to this wonderful paradise at a very early age. 

When I turned 10, the great depression that began to start with the crash of the Stock Market in 1929, and finally affected my parent's investments in real estate a few years later, forced them back into business, this time women's dresses. My family moved to Jamaica, NY so we could be near my mother's sisters. I attended the New York City schools until I graduated Jamaica High School in 1941, was a member of the track team, and was a B- student, and did odd jobs awaiting the call for the draft which was used to create the armed forces for World War II.  (That experience was related in my last column) 

After I was discharged from the U.S. Navy, I was invited by one of my friend's sisters to his welcome-home party. It was there I met Audrey, a lovely young woman who walked into the room wearing a black dress along with a string of pearls. Eventually, I took her phone number and promised to call for a date. The funny part was that a day later I went to visit my sister and found out "There's a nice girl I'd like you to meet who lives a few floors down...her name is 'Audrey!!"

I called; we met and became good friends.  However, life plays many tricks.  I still had a girlfriend from before the war and liked her too.  What to do?  Play both ends, I did.  But my old girlfriend wanted to get married and I was in no position to do so--just started college at NYU, and no money to support her.  We separated, and I turned my attention to Audrey. After a contentious relationship because of my inability to get over my first girlfriend, standing Audrey up for her senior prom, and leaving her at a party to be taken home because I was drunk, our relationship ended.

Our relationship must have meant something to me, because about a year-and-a-half later I sent her a note of apology for my actions, and said I had two tickets for a new Ray Bolger's Broadway show, and would she go with me? She consulted with her "Auntie Mame" who said if you like him, go, and you might enjoy yourself, but be careful! We went, had a nice time and I must have gotten into Aud's good graces because we became engaged a year later, and got married on November 6, 1949.

All the immediate members of my family received a copy of the Remembrance Book. All, of course, loved it, especially when I pictured 12 different hairstyles associated with my wife toward the end of the book.

We had a wonderful 65 years of marriage, through the good times and the hard which will normally come up during a long marriage. But we had one rule we both kept.  Never go to bed without a kiss goodnight!

NEXT COLUMN...Some Interesting Things That Happened During Our Lifetime Together.



Ending the Family Feud...Here are some Heads to Help: A parent doesn't want care; One child is more involved than others; Financier; Does Mom or Dad really need care?, End of Life care & wills; Caregiver burnout; Talking with one voice--by Kurt Kazanowski, Caregiver Today Newsletter, #962,11.3.16.


Bernie is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale communities. Many of the stories he has written are based on factual evidence from newspaper stories and other sources available to the public.  He uses his imagination in parts to help supply the “twist” at the end.  The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.


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